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Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK

B92 under new management

The Help B92 Website says B92's management has changed

By Chris McWhinnie of BBC Monitoring's Foreign Media Unit

The previously independent Belgrade-based Radio B92 has resumed broadcasting.

Kosovo: Special Report
But while the radio jingles and 92.5 FM slot are the same, B92 has abandoned its old selection of Western pop music for Yugoslav fare.

And the news broadcasts are dominated by reports from the official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug.

The radio reappeared at 1045GMT on 12 April for the first time since it was banned and taken off the air by the Serbian authorities on 2 April.

Relay effort

The station had been broadcasting on satellite via the BBC, via the EU's Europe by Satellite radio and TV agency, and also via the Internet since 24 March, when Serbian authorities closed the station's sole Belgrade FM transmitter.

[ image: The former B92 was banned on 2 April]
The former B92 was banned on 2 April
The reason given was that the station had exceeded its permitted power.

The resumed Radio B92 is not being relayed by the BBC, Austrian radio or the EU radio service, which assisted B92 before its closure on 2 April.

Website stagnant

Radio B92's Website does not appear to have come under the control of the new management.

On Wednesday, the Website still carried recorded announcements, reports and statements by the station's former director Sasa Mirkovic about the station's closure by the Serbian authorities on 2 April.

The B92 staff appears to have kept the station's Website, stored on the servers of the XS4ALL Internet provider in the Netherlands, under their control.

A news release on the Help B92 site says the B92 Website will not be updated until the radio is returned to its staff.

Support site tells all

The Help B92 Website, which appears to be the only B92-related site that is being updated, carries a news release dated 13 April and headlined "Will the real Radio B92 please stand up", which gives an insight into the situation in Belgrade.

"Radio B92 has traditionally been a rallying-point for the Belgrade public," the statement says.

"Under normal circumstances we would call on that public to defend the radio they trust, the radio which rates number one in Belgrade.

"However, thanks to the war and the critical situation in the country, the closure and takeover of the station have gone unreported in most media."

The report continues: "The most radical manifestation so far of Serbia's draconian repression of its independent media was the murder, just two days ago [11 April], of Slavko Curuvija, the owner and editor-in-chief of the independent daily 'Dnevni Telegraf' ... This appalling crime has made it almost impossible to guarantee safety and normal working conditions for independent media and journalists.

"The primary aim of B92's leadership is now to protect all staff members from blackmail, arrest, satanisation and libellous accusations of espionage and fifth columnism."

Campaign under way

The Help B92 campaign, based in Amsterdam, said on 24 March that it would establish a fund-raising campaign, a Website and an Internet audio service.

Its Website says the new Radio B92 management was appointed by the Belgrade Youth Council, which claims that Radio B92 is its subsidiary.

Radio Netherlands' Website reports that Aleksandar Nikacevic is the new director of the radio and that he gave the original staff the choice of resuming work or resigning.

The staff has reportedly refused to co-operate with this policy, has not resigned and is seeking alternative accommodation.

A news release dated 13 April and attributed to "the real B92 staff", says the leaders of the B92 team are under constant surveillance.

It explains that while the Nato bombing, a lack of accommodation, petrol shortages and the breakdown of communication systems continue, it is practically impossible to establish any serious action to return Radio B92 to its staff, but that they will attempt to take legal action.

The new B92

A report on Radio B92 on Wednesday said Nato planes had targeted a convoy of cars on the Pec-Prizren road in Kosovo, "where there were many Shiptars [Albanians]".

It said many people were killed or injured.

"Ten minutes later they targeted another column of passenger cars in the village of Zirinovci and many civilians were killed here too.

"This is the latest from Kosovo-Metohija.

"This will be a great media boomerang; many Western reporters in Pristina have gone to the scene to see what happened," the radio said.

Serb TV reports diplomacy

Serbian TV on Wednesday focused on the meeting between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenko in Belgrade.

In a rare TV address, President Milosevic said that only the people of Kosovo could solve the province's problems, and he espoused a multi-ethnic approach, treating all minorities equally.

He rejected what he called "a Nazi-like approach of favouring one nation," and said Kosovo's problems could only be resolved by direct talks between the province's communities, not by "anyone from outside imposing a solution".

President Milosevic also said he had submitted to Lukashenko the official request for Yugoslavia to join the Russia-Belarus union.

Albanian Nato casualties

The TV later showed pictures of a grim-faced Lukashenko visiting a hospital where casualties from the Nato bombing were being treated.

An ethnic Albanian man told Lukashenko his injuries were sustained in a Nato "cluster bomb" attack.

Serbian media reported further widespread damage in Nato air strikes, including a heavy bombardment of Slatina airport near the Kosovo capital Pristina.

The pro-Serbian Pristina Media Centre said more than 30 bombs and rockets fell on Pristina and its surroundings in the latest raids.

It said the 16th civilian victim had died in Pristina as a result of the Nato air strikes.

Serbian TV reported that Nato planes had destroyed the terrestrial satellite station in Prilike near Ivanjica, southwest Serbia.

Over 150 houses were demolished nearby and a primary school and medical clinic was also damaged.

"Enormous losses have been inflicted by the interruption to telephone and television signals.

"The satellite traffic between Yugoslavia and Australia, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, North and South America, and Europe has been severed," the TV said.

BBC Monitoring based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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